Ever and Always
Chapter 40: The Beginning of the End - Monday June 9th 2025

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

The first hint that there might be a problem came from a phone call from the CDC to their local contact, Chris Allen. Chris in turn followed procedure and called the night operator at the town hall. The town hall itself had expanded its original function to being the center for the Valley "government." While having no legal existence, it in fact was the government center for the CSC.

Its creation was the result of a turf battle between the locals, DHS and the Federal government. A building was being put up at the DHS center, the old survivalist ranch. It was intended to house the Federal government with representatives of all branches with ALL of the federal regulations in place.

For some reason, the local contractor putting up this building kept making mistakes in following the building codes and having to rework the building. The latest was in finding out the EPA required study for environmental impact hadn't been performed properly, and the whole site had to be leveled and brought back to its original condition until completion of the study.

The Federal committee comprised of representatives of each group to be housed there complained bitterly to the owners of the construction company. The owners in turn pointed out, it was the committee who had commissioned the original EPA study and the way it was performed.

The committee stated that they should be allowed to ignore the flawed study as they usually did as they were the Federal government. A suit was brought by a newly formed local environmental group, and a Federal Judge brought it all to a halt. It would probably take many years to sort things out and restart construction.

In the meantime, Rick hoped that it wasn't found out that he was the hidden owner of the construction company; and bankroller of the new environmentalist group. After their victory, this group seemed to go dormant.

Since the Feds wouldn't be moving in soon there was a power vacuum. While running the CSC, the DHS couldn't run the local government. The state of Tennessee had made overtures as they saw a revenue source but the county had firm control over its activities. Thus the expanded role of the town-hall switchboard which followed its own established procedures for a CDC event notification.

A phone tree consisting of the Valley Group was called. Within one hour, the group was assembled and listening to the CDC report being related by Chris Allen.

"There is an event in India that is of concern. A H51A - H1N1 combination type influenza event is occurring. It is a new variant. It appears to have a one-week incubation period, and has a seventy percent mortality rate among the general population. They haven't refined what the rate is in specific age groups yet. The only good thing is that it started out in the country side and is just hitting the cities."

Hope Popule asked, "Should we declare Madagascar?"

"What is that," asked Mary?

Hope explained, "During the 1918 flue pandemic the governor of Madagascar closed the ports. They lost less than one percent of their population. Samoa which at that time was about the same size and population didn't close their ports. They lost about twenty percent of their population."

"How do you know this?"

"I used to play a computer game called Pandemic. When we closed an area, it was, 'Calling a Madagascar Event'. The term became so common that they now use it at the CDC."

"We don't want to panic people but maybe this is the time to start a drill. We can turn it real later if needed," observed Marsha.

"Unfortunately, it could be here now with today's rate of travel," observed Mary.

"That being the case let's use our planned twenty-four-hour emergency notice. You either get back or spend ten days in the quarantine area," put in Rick.

Rick continued, "Anyone think we shouldn't do this?"

"I don't," replied Jack Nelson, "It will play hell with business. I will have to shut down for days, and I have already spent my advertising budget. People will show up, and I will be closed."

"Well Jack you aren't required to come into the zone. You can stay on your side of the mountain and keep your store open."

"Most of my customers will be in here!"

Marsha retorted, "Jack it all boils down to; is the risk to your family worth making the money?"

"Dang Marsha when you put it that way we better start locking this place down!"

"Any other concerns," asked Rick?"

After a few moments of silence, he continued. "Okay it is now 4:30 a.m. Thursday June 5, 2025. Marsha, please record that the drill has started at this time and will run for ten days. All work inside will continue. The quarantine centers at the entrance areas are to go active. All employees working outside will continue to be paid, but they will be notified to return with their dependents."

"All housing that is in habitable condition is to be opened. Work on those that are close to livable is to be a priority. Assign those not doing anything else to this task. I also declare that we are now under local marital law for the duration of this drill by order of General Richard King under the powers vested in me by the Department of Homeland Security through Executive Order 30532 of the President of the United States of America."

A chill swept through the group as they suddenly realized what they had just done. Everything they had feared, planned for, and worked to mitigate had just turned into reality. Had they done enough?

Rick dialed the command center and gave his orders. They were terse and to the point. The actions now being taken, and notices being sent out had been through the typical military drill. They had been gamed many times over to ensure they were as good as they could be, short of doing a full drill. This was the drill. Also it could turn out to be the real thing.

After his call, there was an awkward silence as they wondered what to do next.

Mary spoke up, "I think the Lord's Prayer would be very appropriate right now. Our Father who art in heaven..."

It was probably one of the sincerest offering of the time-honored prayer ever given.

After that, things began to happen. The perimeter of the valley was secured. Fences and walls had been long built along the top of ridges and fire lanes cut to keep the perimeter clear. Now portable towers were set up every hundred yards. Cameras and pressure pads were actuated. This was all done according to pre-laid plans.

The main north and south roads were set as the entrances to the valley. Jersey barriers were put into place to funnel traffic to guard stations. The barriers also would prevent anyone shoving through. A lot had been learned about making an area safe in the Middle East sand box.

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